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Cruise’s Robot Car Outages Are Jamming Up San Francisco

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around midnight On June 28, Calvin Hu and his girlfriend were driving near Golden Gate Park in San Francisco when they stopped at an intersection behind two white and orange automatic Chevrolet Bolts operated by General Motors subsidiary Cruise. Another person stopped on the right side of the adjacent lane. The light turned green, but the car driving around town without a driver didn’t move.

He said as Hu was about to back up around the frozen vehicle, he noticed several more Cruise vehicles parked in the driveway behind him. Hu, another driver and a paratransit bus were trapped in a self-driving taxi sandwich.

After several minutes of bewildered waiting, Hu said, he had to drive across the curb in the middle of the street to escape. When he walked back a few minutes later to see if the situation had been resolved, the Cruise vehicle was not moving. Hu said a man who appeared to work for the company stopped at the intersection, as if to signal that the street was closed, and tried to divert traffic away from the stationary self-driving car. Hu estimated that the previously unreported blockade of robot cars lasted at least 15 minutes.

The Cruise vehicle that trapped Hu wasn’t the only self-driving car blocking traffic in San Francisco that night. Internal messages seen by WIRED show that within 90 minutes of losing contact with Cruise servers, nearly 60 cars were disabled across the city. As many as 20 cars, some of them parked on the crosswalk, caused congestion in the city’s downtown. San Francisco Examiner And detailed in a photo posted to Reddit. The California Department of Motor Vehicles, which oversees autonomous vehicle operations in the state, said in a written statement that it was aware of the incident and would meet with Cruise to “gather additional information.”

The June 28 outage wasn’t Cruise’s first. The company lost contact with the entire fleet for 20 minutes on the night of May 18 because its cars were parked on the street, according to internal documents seen by Wired. Company staff can’t see where the vehicle is and can’t communicate with passengers in the vehicle. Worst of all, the company lost access to its system, which allows remote operators to safely steer stopped vehicles to the curb.

A letter that Cruise employees sent anonymously to the California Public Utilities Commission that month, reviewed by WIRED, said the company “often” loses contact with driverless vehicles, blocking traffic and potentially hindering emergency vehicles. The vehicles were sometimes only recovered by trailers, the letter said.Pictures and videos posted on social media possible and June The cruising vehicles appear to be inexplicably parked in San Francisco’s traffic lanes as the city’s pedestrians and motorists drive around them.

Cruise spokeswoman Tiffany Testo said the car that got stuck on May 18 “was able to be moved over as part of Cruise’s suite of backup systems in place.” She provided a written statement saying the company’s vehicles were programmed to operate in the event of an emergency. Pull over and turn on your hazard lights when there are technical problems or unmanageable road conditions. “We are working to minimize the frequency of this, but it is and will remain an aspect of our overall safety operations,” the statement said. Testo did not answer questions about multiple incidents of Cruise vehicles parked in traffic .

The outage comes at a critical time for Cruise, which is accelerating its self-driving car program on the tricky streets of San Francisco as it competes with well-capitalized rivals like Google sister company Waymo, Aurora and Amazon-owned Zoox. This spring, GM acquired SoftBank’s Vision Fund’s $2.1 billion stake in Cruise and invested an additional $1.35 billion in the self-driving unit. Just two weeks after a power outage in May brought Cruise’s fleet out of service, the CPUC approved Cruise’s license to charge for an Uber-like ride-hailing service — opening the way for a full-scale commercial robo-taxi service that could help the company Start recovering billions of dollars. Has poured into building its technology.





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